Best International Data SIM Cards for Digital Nomads & Global Travelers [2024]

International Data SIM Cards for Digital NomadsTravelers, digital nomads, and remote-working professionals want to stay connected while traveling abroad. This can be remedied with the use of an international data SIM card.

If you’re in the game of traveling the world or simply working remotely, an international SIM card is probably on your radar. A SIM card that you can use worldwide, one that will generate a new (local) phone number, allowing you to use your phone and access data as you usually would, is an imperative addition to your work and travel arsenal.

The number of people working remotely has skyrocketed over the last two years, along with the necessity of using data over local networks. An international or travel SIM card will allow you the connection when you need it most and has become commonplace for those who travel and move around for work.

Whether professional or personal information, every device we own and access regularly holds details to which we need instant admission. SIM cards are the answer to your mobile carriers’ ability to recognize your phone within the network. If you want your phone to function correctly when you’re traveling, you need an international SIM card, especially if you’re moving around and traveling.

An international SIM card is a perfect alternative to manually connecting to local networks when you’re on a business trip or living and working abroad as a digital nomad cross  many different countries.

While portable routers and pocket WiFi are decent alternatives to an international SIM card, they don’t always have the reliability factor with easy access to local networks. Plus, most global SIM cards reduce or eliminate international communication costs.

However, it’s crucial to do your research before making a choice, so we’ll talk a bit here about the pros and cons of utilizing a SIM card to connect while traveling, the criteria to take into consideration, and the top market alternatives to choose from.

SIM cards vs eSIM cards: How are they different?

First things first: what is an eSIM card? An eSIM card is essentially a digital version of a physical SIM card. The eSIM is a tiny chip that is embedded in your device.This means that it is remotely reprogrammable through the software built into your phone or laptop.

Like most technology, the drive to implement eSIMs was to create more room for things like your phone’s camera and streamline the process of switching carrier plans. Most smartphones made after 2018 have eSIM capabilities. However,  market adoption in the U.S. has been slow due to carrier resistance.

That being said, digital nomads will be happy to know it hasn’t stopped companies from incorporating eSIMs into laptops and tablets. Apple, Acer, Dell, HP, Samsung, and Microsoft all have laptops and tablets that support eSIM or cellular data.

eSIMs, overall, are becoming more and more popular, especially among international travelers.

It’s likely that you have, or have had, a SIM card. The thumbnail-sized chip is easily removable via a port on the side of your phone. If you want to switch phone plans, carrieres, or change your number, you simply remove and replace the SIM.

eSIM’s are a bit different. The eSIM chip is about one-third of the size of a normal SIM meaning that they do not require extra room for a slot. Instead, they are soldered directly into the motherboard of your device.

Unlike a traditional SIM, eSIMs are much more difficult to remove, but are not service specific. This means that switching plans, numbers, or carriers can be managed from the coordinating software installed in your device.

Additionally, a single device can support multiple eSIMs. So, for example, you could include one personal eSIM and one that you exclusively use for business.

Essentially, eSIM and traditional SIM cards carry out the same function. However, the smaller size and embedded function of the eSIM provides added flexibility. Currently, eSIMs are still a long way from completely replacing traditional SIM cards. Instead, they are commonly being used as a second SIM in dual-SIM devices.

International SIM Pros and Cons

A reliable connection to business and family is imperative during a trip, whether for work or play. Before purchasing an international SIM card, you should have a firm grasp of the benefits and downfalls.

International SIM Card Pros

There are plenty of reasons why an international SIM card will work for you while you’re on the road.

Prepaid

With an international SIM card, you only pay for the texts, calls, and messages that you use, not receive. Your carrier will deduct money from your card when calls and messages elicit a response in prepaid situations. Therefore, if that after-hours call from your co-worker comes in and you’re out to dinner or getting ready for bed, you don’t have to pay for it.

Free Incoming Calls

International SIM cards (typically with every service provider) come equipped with free incoming calls, so you never have to pay for who calls you, even when you answer. International communication has always come with notoriously high rates and fees, but the global SIM card eliminates these.

The Application of Local Rates

International SIM cards can save you up to 90% on communication costs when traveling for work through local rates. These local rates apply to text messages, calls, and accessing data. For those constantly using our phones for work, paying local data rates can save tremendous amounts of money.

Compatibility

If you’re working with a travel SIM card, you need to be compatible with your devices. International SIM cards work with most laptops and tablets, but be sure to look into it before you make a purchase and head off on your trip. You want to ensure that you’ll have a connection before you arrive.

Low-Cost Overall

Purchasing a global SIM card will not empty your wallet. While cost varies among manufacturers, buying a prepaid SIM card ranges from $10 to $50, depending on what you want or need from your SIM card performance. In some cases, this initial cost includes talk and text time; in others, it does not.

International SIM Card Cons

Some cons come with an international SIM card, so you’ll want to ensure they don’t outweigh the pros for you upon purchase.

SIM Activity

Most companies do not make you add money to your prepaid SIM monthly to keep it active, but some do. If you travel abroad often, this won’t be an issue. On the other hand, those fees can add up if you use your SIM once or twice a year. Also, you’ll want to choose a provider that doesn’t allow your credit to expire.

International SIM Phone Number

Ask your provider which type of phone number you’ll receive when you purchase your SIM. For example, some companies provide a UK and USA number and then offer the option to add numbers from dozens of additional countries. You’ll need a plan that works for you and your travel schedule.

Roaming Charges

Forwarding your existing phone number to your SIM card number may or may not result in roaming charges for answered calls. The roaming issue is something you’ll want to discuss before purchase, so you don’t have an international SIM card and a ridiculously high phone bill when you arrive home.

Pros and Cons of Sim Cards vs. eSim Cards

Regardless of whether it’s professional or personal, the odds are you need to regularly access your information easily. SIM cards are what makes that possible, so it’s important to do your research.

Here, we’ll talk about the pros and cons of choosing a SIM card vs. an eSIM card. Your goals, the type of traveler you are, and the type of work you need to do while abroad will all impact what kind of subscriber modality works best for you.

Advantages of SIM Cards

Easy to switch devices

If something happens to your device while abroad, having a traditional SIM card is a huge advantage. You can simply remove your SIM, insert it into a new device, and voila. Any information you saved to your SIM card will now be accessible on your new device.

Not trackable

If you have concerns about privacy, having a SIM card is likely the best option. The easy removability of a traditional SIM card makes it easy to get off the grid.

Disadvantages to SIM Cards

New phone number

One of the disadvantages of having a SIM Card while traveling is that you will likely be assigned a new phone number. This may make it more difficult to stay connected with colleagues and friends while on the road.

Less secure

One downside to SIM cards is that they tend to be less secure, especially when compared to eSIMs. If your phone gets stolen, a thief simply has to remove the SIM card and your phone is no longer traceable. In addition, depending on the type of SIM you have, you may have to wait for a new SIM to arrive in the mail.

The advantages of eSIM Cards

The information is rewritable

This means that you can easily change networks without needing a brand new SIM card. For international travelers, this can save hours of time.No more searching for hotspots or trying to communicate through google translate.

Additionally, eSIMs give you the flexibility to temporarily change to other networks. You can switch to an international plan with the click of a button.

Bonus: you’ll never have to go looking for a SIM ‘ejector tool’ to swap out the old SIM.

Temporarily change to other networks

Depending on your device, you could have up to eight digital SIM cards at the same time. This means that you can easily switch between networks or modes. For digital nomads and international travelers, this makes switching to local mobile networks effortless and can save you money.

More secure

Since eSIM cards are embedded in your phone, there are less opportunities for water or grime to do damage to your phone. Additionally, if your phone is lost or stolen it won’t be as easy for thieves to remove the trackable eSIM.

The Disadvantages of an eSIM

Trackable

The downside to the same secure tracking that prevents theft is that it is more difficult for you to go off the grid. If you have concerns about your privacy, removing the SIM card is an easy solution. However, eSIMs cannot be easily removed which makes you easier to track.

Not easy to switch devices

 Another disadvantage of eSIMs is that they can’t be easily swapped out between devices. If your phone stops working, you cannot simply pull out the card and insert it into a new device. With eSIMs this can become a time-consuming process in which you will need to retrieve and download all your information from the cloud.

Both SIM and eSIM cards have pros and cons. Deciding which one will suit your life and travel style best requires careful consideration.

Criteria to Select Your International SIM Card

If you’re having trouble deciding which travel SIM card will work the best for your trip, there are a few things you should consider.

Your Destination

Where you’re going (one country or many within one region) will determine the best type of SIM card for you. For example, if you’re traveling to just one country, you can purchase a country-specific SIM card.

Trip Length

Consider the length of your trip, and then proceed to add up the number of texts, messages, and data you typically receive in that time frame. It’s safe to say that you’ll use a similar amount when traveling, and you can plan your prepaid SIM package accordingly without overspending.

Cost

It’s crucial to consider funding when purchasing anything, and your travel SIM is no exception. You don’t want to overspend and buy more than you’ll need, but not adding enough cash to cover your data use could put you in a serious spot during an important meeting.

Overall, selecting the perfect travel SIM card isn’t difficult, and it can save you plenty of time and money when you’re traveling abroad. Simply know what you need to get out of your SIM and move forward from there.

Top International SIM Cards To Use When Working Remotely

Now that you know about eSIMs vs SIM cards, their pros and cons, as well as main characteristics to take into consideration when buying and using one, let’s go through the most popular alternatives in the market:

1. Holafly

Holafly

Holafly is a reliable eSIM provider offering affordable and convenient data plans for global travelers. The company’s eSIMs provide coverage in over 130 countries. For instance, popular destinations are the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

One of the major advantages of Holafly’s eSIMs is the unlimited data packages. This offers customers the freedom to use as much data as they need without worrying about overage charges. Holafly’s unlimited data plans are available for various durations; for instance,

  • 5 days for $19
  • 10 days for $34
  • 15 days for $47
  • 20 days for $54
  • 30 days for $64
  • 60 days for $84
  • 90 days for $99

The company’s eSIMs are compatible with major devices, including smartphones, tablets, laptops, and wearables.

Holafly’s eSIMs are very easy to set up, and customers can activate their eSIMs instantly through the Holafly website or mobile app. They also offer 24/7 customer support, providing assistance whenever customers require it.

2. KeepGo Data Sim Card

This prepaid worldwide data SIM card can help you save up to 80% on international data when roaming. It has high-speed 4G for 120+ countries and data speeds are never throttled or filtered.

(Get 10% off with the Coupon Code remoters.net)

KeepgoHow the service works

KeepGo’s data sim card is compatible with all unlocked devices at take nano, micro, and standard SIM adapters. It’s as simple as plugging it into your device and switching your service on through your phone settings. There is no need to swap SIM cards when you cross borders with this SIM kit, either.

Main plans and cost

This SIM kit is $50 and comes with 1GB included.

The Pros

  • Multiple data plans and options, rather than expensive unlimited international day passes
  • No throttling for 4G LTE
  • No filtering
  • No data expiration
  • Coverage in over 120 countries
  • Instant activation
  • Fits in all mobile devices that are unlocked

The Cons

  • Data-only
  • Must be refilled once a year
  • Won’t work in less-traveled countries
  • Plans are somewhat expensive (10GB of data is nearly $219)

See KeepGo’s reviews and analysis for further information.

3. Knowroaming

Knowroaming’s international SIM card offers affordable calls in 200+ countries, plus 4G LTE coverage. Each kit comes with $10 in free credit as well.

How the service works

This SIM card is less of a SIM card and more of a SIM application sticker. The Global SIM Sticker can be applied to your phone’s regular SIM card. Simply download the Knowroaming app to activate the international SIM to enjoy roaming capabilities. Use it only when you need it!

Knowroaming also offers an actual SIM card for devices and services that are not compatible.

Main plans and cost

The Global SIM Sticker is $29.99. The Global SIM card is $9.99

The Pros

  • The SIM card is compatible with virtually all devices
  • Excellent customer service
  • A wide range of countries for use
  • Offers an optional subscription service that allows users to receive calls abroad

The Cons

  • The SIM sticker is not compatible with Sprint, Verizon, locked devices, NFC tap payment, cut SIM cards, or dual SIM cards.
  • Device must be unlocked to use either product.
4. Travelwifi SIM Card

sim card travelwifiHow the service works

Unlock your smartphone and get data at rock bottom rates. Great for solo travelers with a budget in mind, the Teppy SIM card will accompany you in all of Europe.

Main plans and cost

Data Plan: 20GB of Data in Europe; +120 Minutes; +1000 Texts; 14 Day Validity; Price: €36.95 / £30.95 / $39.95

The Pros

  • Connect in 85+ Countries
  • SIM triple cut (nano, micro, classic)
  • Plug and play Sim solution
  • 4G LTE speed
  • No commitment or contracts, pay-as-you-go

The Cons

  • Data works only in Europe
  • It has just one plan for 20 GB for 14 days

See Travelwifi’s reviews and analysis for further information.

5. TravelSIM

This service is unique in that you can choose a fully international SIM card as well as an American, Asian, and European SIM card. The rates also vary quite a bit depending on what you’d like to use the service for, making it a highly customizable SIM service to consider.

How the service works

Credits for this prepaid service can be purchased via the TravelSIM website. The SIM card itself can simply be plugged into an unlocked device.

Main plans and cost

The plans for TravelSIM vary significantly depending on your home country, traveling country, and whether or not you want to utilize limit-free roaming. Check out the TravelSIM site to learn more and get a rate.

The SIM cards themselves cost $16 each.

The Pros

  • Unlimited calls to the USA and Europe
  • Reliable 3G speed
  • Works in 170 countries
  • Fast delivery
  • Excellent coverage with over 320 networks around the globe
  • Money-back guarantee
  • Free incoming calls and messages

The Cons

  • Airtime ends in 12 months
6. FlexiRoam

FlexiRoam is a unique service that offers a variety of SIM options as well as local rates for maximum savings. This service also features a variety of SIM cards, including a microchip, SIM card, and e-SIM.
Flexiroam logo

How the service works

The eSIM can be downloaded to specific devices, eliminating the need for changing SIM cards. The microchip works well in single SIM devices, and that regular SIM is ideal for dual SIM phones.

Main plans and cost

The physical SIM cards are $21.99 and the eSIM starter kit is $34.99. The local rates vary significantly depending on the country you plan to travel to, the amount of data you’d like, and the duration of your stay. For example, a 24-day data plan for Japan is $44.10.

The Pros

  • Free 1GB of data with starter kit
  • Offers local rates that make it easier to save money in specific regions
  • Better and cheaper rates than many international SIM services

The Cons

  • Only available in 150 countries
  • Less than ideal coverage

See Flexiroam’s reviews and analysis for further information.

7. Airalo

Airalo is an eSIM provider offering convenient and affordable data plans for international travelers. With local plans for over 190 countries, Airalo’s services are known for their reliability and ease of use.

The company offers global packages for 84 countries, which comprise plans for data usage in multiple countries in a particular region. For instance, the company’s Asia package covers 14 countries, while its Europe package covers 48 countries.

Airalo’s global packages consist of options to suit different usage requirements. For instance, customers can opt for the $9 package providing 1GB of data for seven days. Or the $35 package that provides 5GB of data for 30 days. For long-term travelers, you can go for $59, providing 10GB for 60 days, or opt for an $89 package that provides 20GB of data for 180 days.

Airalo’s services are prepaid, with no hidden fees. You can purchase and activate your eSIMs instantly through the Airalo website or mobile app. They also offer 24/7/365 support across all time zones. This ensures customers can receive prompt assistance whenever they need it.

airalo logo

How the service works

Airalo is an eSIM service, meaning that no physical SIM cards need to be inserted. Simply download the Airalo app to your smartphone or tablet to begin the installation process and to purchase credits.

Main plans and cost

Local SIM plans vary from country to country. For example, you can purchase 1GB of data for 7 days in France for $3. Regional eSIMs are a bit more strict. A Eurolink prepaid plan offers 1GB of data for seven days for $5.

The Pros

  • Offers an extremely wide variety of local and regional plans to fit exactly what you want
  • Rates are quite low and affordable for virtually all of their prepaid plans

The Cons

  • Only offers local services for around 100 countries (however, they do offer worldwide regional eSIMs)

See Airalo’s reviews and analysis for further information.

8. One SIM Card

One SIM card offers the widest variety of SIM card types– universal SIM, expedition SIM, Europe & More SIM, and eSIM. If you need more than one phone number, this is a good service to consider.

One SimCard LogoHow the service works

All you need to do for the physical SIM cards is to plug them in. The eSIM can simply be downloaded and is compatible unlocked phones.

Main plans and cost

OneSimCard Universal is $29.95, OneSimCard Europe & More is $19.95, OneSimCard Expedition is $34.95, and OneSimCard eSIM is $9.95. Rates vary from country to country and by SIM type. Outgoing calls start at 25 cents per minute and data starts at 1 cent per MB.

The Pros

  • Option for more than one phone number
  • Extra coverage where available
  • Free incoming calls for most countries and free incoming SMS everywhere
  • Optional WiFI calling app
  • Contract-free
  • SMS verification service for travelers who need to receive text messages, eg: shortcodes from banks.

The Cons

  • Some plans are limited in their features
  • Europe & More SIM is direct dial only
  • Live technical service can be improved

See One SIM card’s reviews and analysis for further information.

9. GoSIM Data SIM Card

This popular global SIM card offers 4G speed data plans to 210 countries, divided into two separate regions. You’ll receive a global phone number and can add additional funds at any time, whenever you need them.

How the service works

If you’re traveling to multiple destinations, GoSIM makes it easy to choose a multi-destination plan. Simply purchase a SIM card, activate by phone, and start using your SIM card immediately.

Main plans and cost

Depending on the country and 4G LTE data amount you’d like, prices vary from $9 to $175. You can recharge your SIM credits by visiting their website.

The Pros

  • Unused airtime lasts for 18 months, which is longer than most
  • No hidden charges
  • No connection fees
  • Free incoming calls in 135 countries and free SMS in all included countries
  • Over 340 networks globally

The Cons

  • Less-traveled countries seem to have higher plan costs
  • Most plan costs are fairly pricey
  • The GoSIM website is a little buggy, which can be a pain when trying to reload your data

Wrapping Up!

eSIMs and SIM cards can be an amazing alternative to connect to the internet to work and have conference calls while traveling abroad. Have you ever used an International SIM card? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.

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